In an increasingly competitive and global economy, having an adequately skilled workforce is no longer a luxury but a necessity.
Since 2015 North West Regional College (NWRC), in partnership with the Department for the Economy, has embarked on a re-energised strategy to develop a highly skilled and motivated Business Support Centre, to support local companies in pursuit of business growth. The Business Support Centre focuses on two main strands - Innovation and Skills.
Within the Skills development agenda the college is taking a pivotal role in delivering a skilled workforce to the North West through the successful delivery of a number of pre-employment training programmes, guaranteeing a skilled workforce to potential investors interested in bringing jobs to Northern Ireland.
Leading names such as Danske Bank have been able to recruit new employees who have completed the industry-relevant training, and successfully progressed to full-time employment.
Just over 2,000 current employees across the region have upskilled through the Skills Focus programme, which offers bespoke professional training programmes for current employers who may have a need to upskill their workforce.
Danske Bank who recently announced the creation of 67 new jobs in Derry~Londonderry, have, with the support from the Department for the Economy, collaborated with North West Regional College to deliver high-quality training opportunities, using the Assured Skills Pre-Employment Academy.
The first Academy has now been completed, with 18 of the graduates recruited receiving an offer of employment.
February 2019 saw the beginning of the second Danske Bank Customer Protection Academy, a four-week programme aimed at equipping graduates from a range of disciplines with the core skills required to pursue a career in the customer protection unit at Danske.
North West Regional College delivered a range of topics in line with Danske requirements over the four week period encompassing models of Business Fundamentals, Money Laundering Regulations, Know your Customer, Presentation Skills, Communication Skills/Telephone manner, Soft skills and time management.
Nicola Curry Business Development Manager at NWRC’s Business Support Centre explained: “The heart of what we do at the Business Support Centre is focused on supporting local companies to create a skilled workforce. We aim to create a skilled talent pool that can be accessed locally to meet the current recruitment challenges faced by local companies.
“NWRC has the resources needed to allow employers to acquire the skills they need to make their business successful.
“Training for staff is an important means through which employers can help tackle skill shortages − either those faced through an inability to recruit sufficiently skilled labour, or those that are present in the existing workforce – as well as to generally develop workforce skills to increase productivity and expertise.
“As well as helping to recruit a new talent pool of employees, our professional training programmes support the staff development requirements of existing employers which can result in increased productivity for local businesses..
“These are delivered in house by our specialised NWRC lecturers across a range of industry areas.
“The success of the Assured Skills programme is a testament to the expertise offered by our highly skilled staff and lecturers and the value placed on this training by industry. Other companies that have recently made significant job announcements such as Alchemy Technologies Limited and FinTru are also working closely with the college.
“The Skills & Workforce Development Department within the BSC has primarily focused on developing the talents of those already in work and those seeking to enter employment in order to provide a pipeline of suitably skilled and qualified individuals at all levels to meet employers’ needs, including indigenous companies and inward investment projects.
“Skills Focus programmes support, promote, and facilitate collaborative working between business and colleges. Through the programme, NWRC has provided tailored accredited skills interventions to small to medium enterprises to increase the skills levels of their workforce to level 2 and above. Over the past 4 years, NWRC has consistently achieved the targeted budget allocation and supported over 578 companies across a range of sectors. The department has grown year on year, developed innovative curriculum, and engaged with new sectors to increase the level of businesses.
“Programmes include Business Improvement Techniques – Lean Manufacturing, Leadership and Management Development, Building Information Modelling, CAD – Computer Aided Design, Health and Social Care Diplomas, and Customer Care. “
Janice Johnston, Operations Manager at Danske Bank in Shipquay Street said: “Danske Bank is delighted to embark on a second North West Assured Skills Academy in partnership with NWRC, offering 23 local people the chance to gain training and a possible career with the bank as a Customer Protection Analyst, with the help and support of the lecturing staff at the college who provide expert training and skills.
“The Department for the Economy’s Assured Skills Academy follows on from the success of the first NW Academy last year which saw 18 of our graduates take up full time positions, and is a signal of our continued commitment to the local area.”